An American in Panama Returns!

Just in case you were wondering, Yes! Frank Backe is alive and well and still living in and loving Panama! Let me share with you what led to the absence of my newsletter over these past months.

But first of all, what has not led to my lack of communication:

  • I have Not been in a coma
  • I have Not been abducted by aliens
  • I have Not taken a vow of silence

In fact, I have been quite active in business and in Panama. Back in the fall of 2016, I had an opportunity to work for one of the largest newsletter printing houses in Panama located in Panama City. Part of what I did was working with folks who were interested in investments offered by this newsletter (in fact, the same ones we had always offered). Due to a little thing called “conflict of interest,” I was hampered from sending out my own newsletter with offerings of the same investments (as well as others, of course) so long as I was working with this company. Just a few weeks ago, this working arrangement came to a close, which has freed me up to take up the pen and begin my communication with you once again!

Let it be said that I am still and always a firm believer that Panama is a Jewel for Business, Investment and Retirement. Here, many folks are living a life they only dreamed of in the US. It is a great life, whether you choose the beaches (which we particularly love), the mountains or the city. Panama is a great bet for retirement!

As I have stated in previous newsletters, in Panama we enjoy unbelievable Jubilado (translation: retiree) discounts on most things, from dinners to movies, from bus travel to plane travel, hotels, entertainment, tourist attractions. Heck, you even get to go to the front of the line in many places, like banks, government offices, etc. Try that in the US!


PA-1Since we moved to Panama in mid-2013, we have loved the quiet, laid-back life at the beach. Things move pretty slow here. Things are very relaxed. There’s not a whole lot going on here in the way of nightlife or cultural events, but it is what we have come to love.

City life is quite a bit different!

My work week began with boarding an extremely comfortable luxury coach bus for Panama City. This bus offers a movie and on-board bathroom. Not too shabby for the 1 1/2 hour ride to the City, that could sometimes stretch to almost 4 hours, depending upon traffic, accidents, etc. So much better than having to drive! I could read my morning paper, people watch, catch up on emails on my phone, etc. And the cost for this transportation? $2, and, yes, I did get a 20% Jubilado discount on that fare. From the bus terminal in Panama City, I took the Metro to downtown for a princely sum of $.25, yes, one thin quarter! Believe me, you can get around Panama extremely reasonably, even when you need to add a leg with a taxi. That is good news for folks who don’t love the idea of driving around in a foreign country!

After a full day at the office, I retired to my room at a Hilton Hotel where my nightly rate was $50 and included an amazing buffet breakfast. No, that wasn’t the Jubilado discount. That rate is a result of a great travel club I belong to and which Norma represents. The savings are amazing on many aspects of travel. The nightly hotel savings were usually at least $20. If you would like to know more about the club, check out this link┬áTravel Club.

I had the opportunity to check out various restaurants in the City while staying there each week. My meals were always discounted by 25% with the Jubilado discount.

There are a lot of events and entertainment opportunities in Panama City, although I didn’t really take advantage of many of these owing to the fact that I was not there on weekends and also, more importantly, my wife doesn’t appreciate me going cruising around nightclubs solo! What I want to say, though, is that Panama City is a vibrant city with wonderful hotels (which can be very affordable–check out that link above), great restaurants, entertainment and easy and economical to get around without owning or renting a car.

After visiting Panama City and taking in some of the wonderful tourist attractions, you may want to head out to where I got to spend my weekends:


My long weekends at home were almost like a vacation. In our condo right on the Pacific, enjoying the ocean breezes that waft through our condo and listening to the waves below, a peace falls over me. Walks along the ocean on the white-and-black sand beach provides some exercise. We supplement our peaceful home life with activities in the area, including social hours with other expats here. If you want, you can fill up most days and nights with meetings, happy hours, trivia, open mic nights, etc. We have a couple of favorites where we can sit quietly with friends and enjoy a tasty and cheap Balboa beer and discuss what is happening in the community. We really enjoy meeting folks who have come here for a vacation or are checking out the possibility of moving here after retiring. Fascinating, hearing all of their stories. Quite often, we see the same folks returning here after a short time away.

Happy Hour at Picassos

Happy Hour at Picassos

One of the important things that people learn when they visit here is that there is a strong expat community that is good at supporting others in the community. In addition to face-to-face meetings at social gatherings, there are Facebook pages where you can post questions regarding a need and, within minutes, many folks are on there offering helpful information for you. There is also a business networking group that holds meetings here each Tuesday morning. Although it was conceived as a group for businesses, many folks who do not have businesses but have retired here love to attend the meetings because they have an opportunity to meet lots of folks with or without businesses in the area or to be referred to tested & trusted businesses here. Plus, it’s just fun! All of these things contribute to making this a great place to live.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I am now back at the beach full-time rather than working in the City. I now have more time to enjoy home, family and the community. No more excuses for not writing this newsletter! You will be seeing it on a regular basis once again!

At this point, I hand the pen to Norma.


Rock piles for hunting

Rock piles for hunting

Hi folks! One thing that Frank & I discovered shortly after moving here is that, if you look, you can find beautiful seaglass on the beaches. Let me tell you, though, it can be addictive! But lots of folks come and ask, “Where is it, anyway? I don’t see any when I walk on the beach.”

We don’t always find lots, but we almost find at least some. You want to look for seaglass in the little piles of shells and rocks that are left by the waves, usually as the tide is going out. Generally, the best time to look for seaglass is when it is low tide. Here on the Pacific beach, we find seaglass of all colors. The most common are the white, green, brown and aquamarine pieces. We have, however, found black, gray, yellow, cobalt blue and light blue as well as pink. These last ones are relatively rare, but, let me assure you, it is exciting to find nice pieces of seaglass of any color.

Aqua on wet sand

Aqua on wet sand

I know folks who do amazing things with seaglass: pictures, jewelry, etc. I am not very artistic and have confined myself to making seaglass candles with 1 pint canning jars with decorative lids. They are really quite lovely but fully functional. The next time I make some, I will take photos of one to include in the newsletter. In the meantime, here are some photos of some of our seaglass collection.


Today's haul

Today’s haul

Favorite w pink

Some of my favorites–check out the pink!








So, if this sounds intriguing, why not come & comb the beach with me to find your own seaglass. While you’re here, we can visit the Mango Farm so you can see with your own eyes this beautiful and amazing Impact Investment. In the meantime, you can check out the brochure by clicking on this link:┬áMANGO BROCHURE


Duke: 4/8/2001 - 7/12/2017

Duke: 4/8/2001 – 7/12/2017


Those of you who have been receiving this newsletter for a while know that our sweet beagle Duke has been a big part of our life here in Panama. He came to Panama on December 4, 2014 and loved it right away, enjoying walks on the beach and, most of all, never being cold again.

On July 12, we had to say good-bye to our faithful friend of over 16 years. Just one of the hardest things we have ever had to do. We have such wonderful memories of this great dog. Those of you who have had and lost pets know what we have gone through.


IN CLOSING, if you have any questions or comments, please share them with us via email at We love to hear from you!

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